Barstow’s Gilyard, Olathe South’s Ingram and Future Soldier Derry selected as U.S. Army High School Top Performers

Future Soldier Derry

January 2015 – Each month Kansas City Sports & Fitness Magazine teams up with the U.S. Army
to honor High School Top Performers.This month we visited the Barstow School, Olathe South and the Grandview Recruiting Center to honor three Top Performers in the Kansas City metro.

Jacob Gilyard / The Barstow School / Student-Athlete

The Barstow boys basketball team started a freshman at point guard last year, typically not a recipe for success. But Jacob Gilyard led the Knights to 27 wins and the state championship game in Missouri Class 3.

After a season of starting experience, Gilyard earned U.S. Army Top Performer honors by propelling Barstow to a great start in 2014-15. The Knights have played a brutal schedule and stand 6-1, the only loss coming to the top-ranked team in Kansas Class 6-A, Lawrence, in triple overtime.

“He’s light years ahead of where most kids are as sophomores,” said Barstow coach Billy Thomas. “He’s shot the ball well. He’s distributed the ball, defended. He’s done everything you ask a point guard to do. Without question I think he’s one of the best in the area.”

Gilyard deflected praise to his coach and teammates.“Coach Thomas is putting us in great situations,” Gilyard said. “My teammates are playing well. We’re playing really good basketball so far.”

Gilyard forms a dynamic one-two punch with Jerica Horne, a heavily recruited junior post player.
“He’s what I want in a big man,” Gilyard said. “We’ve been playing together since 6th or 7th grade so we’ve known each other for a while. He’s just a great player all around. He does it all. Playing with him is great.”

The two were cornerstones of last season’s state runner-up squad, but despite the fact he has three more chances to win it all, Gilyard refuses to be happy they got to the title game. He is still upset they did not get a championship.

“It was good but it was heartbreaking,” he said. “It was good experience to get there and start as a freshman, but didn’t get the result we wanted. We’re looking forward to it this year.”

Thomas knows while Horne gets a lot of headlines, his point guard may well be the key to making a run at winning a state championship this season.

“He makes his teammates 10 times better,” Thomas said. “He’s an extremely hard worker. But his most important attribute for our team is he makes everybody better.”

Steve Ingram  / Olathe South / Girls Basketball Coach

Steve Ingram is coaching his 26th Olathe South Falcons girls basketball team this year, one that has already
experienced a roller coaster of emotions. Optimism was high before the season with three returning starters, including Kansas University-commit Kylee Kopatich, from last year’s 22-3 squad that finished third
in the state.

However, just before Thanksgiving, Kopatich suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Despite that adversity, the Falcons regrouped to start 4-0 and capture a championship at the Joplin Tournament.

“We’ve adapted and adjusted well,” said Ingram, the U.S. Army Top Performer Coach of the Month. “Seem to be playing well together. Defending well, taking care of the basketball, rebounding well. We’re off to a pretty decent start.”

Kopatich, who was MVP of the Sunflower League last year, is proud the way her teammates have responded to adversity and thinks Ingram’s coaching style has been a positive factor.

“It’s motivated them to do great things,” Kopatich said. “(Coach Ingram) relies on the team as a whole rather than just one individual. He doesn’t put so much pressure on us. He’s not one of those coaches who yells and screams. He addresses the whole team.”

The Falcons won the Joplin Tournament defeating teams from Arkansas in the semifinals and finals that had played twice as many games and had been practicing since the first day of school.

“They were almost in midseason form and we’re just trying to get there,” Ingram said. “That put us at a little bit of a disadvantage, but we were able to overcome it.”

Olathe South won the 2010 state title, in 2010 and been a perennial contender during Ingram’s tenure.

“It’s a blast coaching here because you get a lot of great kids that come through our program,” Ingram said. “They’re just great young ladies, highly motivated, great character. It makes coaching fun.”

Woodrow Derry / Raymore-Peculiar /Future Soldier

There are many great reasons to join the Army, but for Future Soldier Woodrow Derry one stood above the others: the honor of serving his country. For Derry, a senior at Raymore-Peculiar High School, the Army is less of a career choice and more of a calling.

“I just felt like it was what I needed to do to serve my country and my community,” Derry said. “I look forward to doing what’s right, serving my country and doing my best.”

Like many Army recruits, Derry comes from a family that has a history of military service, including a grandparent who had a big influence in his Army career choice.

“My grandfather was in the Air Force,” Derry said. “He wanted me to go in the Air Force but I had to turn him down. I’ve always enjoyed the Army. But I’m going to be Airborne Infantry. The closest thing I could get to was Airborne in the Army.”

He plans to spend three years on active duty before moving to the Army Reserves and either
get a teaching degree or pursue a career in law enforcement. He leaves for Basic Training at Fort Benning June 1.

First, though, he has some unfinished business in his high school athletic career. A wrestler for the past five years, Derry has seen his last two seasons end at the district tournament.

“I want to try again this year to qualify for state,” Derry said. “Overall, we’re a pretty good team.”
Derry believes the sport has prepared him for his military future.

“The hand-to-hand combat, discipline and cardio training will all be handy for entering the Army,” Derry said.

Articles by Nick McCabe

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